The Ethiopian Federal Government ad a ceasefire in Tigray on Friday. The Ethiopian National Defense Force and the Tigray Provisional Administration left the capital of Tigray under the ceasefire, putting eight months of war on hiatus.
The Tigray Defense Force, a guerrilla group, did not agree to the government’s ceasefire. Rosemary DiCarlo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Peacebuilding, said “we urge the TDF to endorse the ceasefire immediately and completely.”
The government cited humanitarian concerns as the driving force behind the ceasefire. According to DiCarlo, “civilians have paid the heaviest price” for the armed conflict in Tigray. The UN estimates that the war has displaced 1.7 million people. In addition, he estimates that 400,000 people live in famine and another 1.8 million “are on the verge of famine” as a result of the conflict.
DiCarlo said that “strict respect for international humanitarian and human rights law” is necessary for the protection and well-being of civilians. DiCarlo also called on the warring parties to “offer all necessary assistance” to the investigation between the UN and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, which debuted in March. She noted that accountability is necessary for “serious human rights violations committed during the conflict, including acts of sexual violence against children and adults and massacres”.
In addition, the Acting United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ramesh Rajasingham, encouraged parties to the conflict to “stop the fighting to allow humanitarian aid to pass unhindered and protect civilians.”
Rajasingham specifically urged humanitarian aid to ensure safe road access into and out of Tigray, including bypassing checkpoints. He also encouraged the use of the “fastest and most efficient” routes and modalities, including flight; use of communication equipment; restoration of “electricity, communication networks and banking services in Tigray”; and “free movement of essential commercial goods” to ensure that aid workers can transport supplies to those in need and that hospitals can function.
Rajasingham noted that providing humanitarian aid is not a panacea. He warned that unless Tigray can return to pre-war normality, “famine will take an even stronger hold on Tigray.”